Review: Lesson with Oscar Acebras

10th September 2009


I just had a private lesson with a musician called Oscar Acebras.

He has been living and breathing music and dance for the last 50 years in Buenos Aires. He was taught tango by his grandfather and father. I was lucky to have a dance with him and it was heaven. So when his wife Julia said why not have a private lesson with him I jumped at the chance. So, it was all basic stuff, but he is very traditional and so I've written-up my notes.

There was only one thing new for me and that was how to hold in the close embrace. He has a certain style - not right not wrong. Just another idea. He just broke everything down into minute detail and said what he thought was important (for example, dissociation).


Always walk in connection with the music. There is a connection between your stomach and the floor.

  • Keep stomach strong
  • Little intention forward - all the body
  • Together the legs - in the moment of step brush legs together.
  • Standing Leg - place all weight on the standing leg and keep it straightish.
  • Free Leg - bend knee, keeping toe on floor (the heel is lifted)
  • Extend free leg and touch floor with toe. Then ..
  • Pass weight to all foot in contact with floor
  • Leg is straight. There can be a slight inflection of the knee.
  • Straight line from nose to knee (ish) (this is not set in stone)

Keep your back straight. How the lady places her foot (do the above backwards) is her own choice, but make sure the leg goes straight back.

Your body must listen to the music.

Embrace - for tall and short people

Always keep shoulders horizontal. The rule is to move the arm. Not body. Keep body level. Just slide the arm up and around the shoulder line.

Oscar uses the neck line, but it seems a bit intimate for me. In open embrace make sure you place hand just to the outside of the shoulder (not on the inside as this displaces your balance). Do not grip mans arm in salon tango - he thinks this is for fun and games only. Oscar likes the embrace to be straight on - not "V" shaped - that's for doing flashy moves!

Knocking knees and standing on feet

This is largely to do with the leader. The leader is too upright in the body. Just lean forward a bit. (The whole upper body). Try it against a door.


Tango people are in 2 parts - the upper and the lower. So...

Dissociation: He spent ages making sure that this (in his mind) was what made a great Tanguera and that I understood. We have to be able to do this and must practice every day. He is very supple. Just do exercises that supple you up. Male and female. I think this is what he said for ocho:

  • Extend the foot (nicely with toe down) (as discussed above)
  • Pass the weight
  • Collect
  • Pivot and dissociate together.
  • Make fluid movement of pivot and make sure it flows. He was really strict on dissociating and laughed because I couldn't do it so well. I moved my hips to help dissociate, whereas you have to keep hips still and move upper body separately. Careful you don't lead with the shoulders (its cheating)

He was very keen to make fluid soft movement of ocho. If you look at the number "8" it is full of curves. I tend to make my ochos a bit jagged.

The chest (followers)


- Natalie Hawes, 10th September 2009

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